Bifido Bacteria – The Friendly Bacteria

The principle behind any probiotic product is that the food contains live bacteria, and that when the food is consumed the bacteria pass down the digestive tract and reside long enough in the intestines to provide some beneficial effect to the consumer. The critical question is always “which bacteria should be used in probiotic preparations”.

There are thousands of different bacteria, many with strange sounding names. Those who eat yogurt are probably most familiar with Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. It is these two bacteria that are used primarily to change milk to yogurt, and so when you eat yogurt you are also eating at the same time large numbers of live L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus. How many bacteria is a large number? A good yogurt will contain 107 or more of each bacteria per gram. That‘s 10 million!

But bifido bacteria are quickly gaining a reputation around the world as a bacteria that is beneficial to health. In fact, many refer to bifido bacteria as the “friendly bacteria”, because of the growing evidence that points to bifido bacteria as being good for health. Some yogurts now contain bifido bacteria in addition to Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

Bifido bacteria are found in highest quantities in the intestines of breast fed newborns. As the baby ages and its diet changes, the numbers of Bifido bacteria declines and other bacteria, some associated with disease, increase in numbers. In studies carried out in primarily in Japan, it was shown that adding Bifido bacteria back into the diet improved diarrhea, and constipation. Various strains of Bifido bacteria have been shown to be able to synthesize vitamins that may be available to the host. There have also been reports of the infection preventing ability of Bifido bacteria and their antitumor effect,

How these bacteria exert their beneficial effects is not well understood. The bacteria use the food passing down through the intestine to live, grow and reproduce. It may be that some substances produced by the bacteria lower the acidity or pH of the intestinal contents. The bacteria also produce volatile fatty acids or VFA’s. Several VFA’s have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells. A third possibility is that the bacteria contain or produce enzymes that detoxify potential carcinogens as they pass through the intestine.

Table 1
BIFIDO FACTS
Common Strains:B. breve, B. infantis, B. longum, B. adolescentis
Location of B. Bacteria in the Body :large intestine
Sugars used by Bifido Bacteria:short chain fructooligosaccharides, lactulose, lactitol
Foods Containing Bifido Bacteria :some yogurts

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